Lets see how far we’ve come…

August16

This course has been an amazing learning experience that I wouldn’t change for anything.  I have been challenged more than I could have asked for.  I wish Alex was teaching another course that I could take another semester.  This is my first semester as a University at Albany and this is one of the 2 courses that I am taking.  With what I have seen and learned so far I have to say that I am only looking forward to what I will learn in the rest of my educational career.  I am excited for what the future holds since I know I will be a life long learner.

After taking this course I have considered becoming a professor possibly even an online professor.  I am very young so right now might not be the right time but in the future its a strong possibility.  I have a lot of knowledge that I could share with future educators.  In the future you might see my name on a professor listing. 🙂

This course has taught me to keep on learning.  What I mean by that is sometimes you are given assignments to complete.  It is what you do beyond those assignments that help you to gain insight and knowledge.  My favorite part of this course was turning the discussions into our own learning experience through research.  We could take take the discussions in a direction that interested us which in turn actually taught us something.  We also were able to read our classmates discussion posts and learn about what they were interested in.  It was almost like the course was student led.    I feel like I have had a different learning experiences in this course which has shaped me into a new kind of learner.  I am more of a go getter now who wants to keep learning more.

My learning was shaped by my peers and the discussions that we had.  Without them my learning experience would have not been the same.  It was most beneficial for me to read my classmates posts to see what they were interested in and then begin a discussion with them to learn more.  I think the biggest thing that hindered my learning was the quantity of work that we had.  With less assignments I would have had more time to put more focus into my assignments which would have helped me to learn more.  At times during the course I felt that I was overwhelmed working on my course and all of the other components as well.  All in all, I want to thank everyone for this semester it is one that I won’t forget.  Hopefully we will meet again in the virtual world!

 

Kelly (4)

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Learning only leads to discovery

August12

Throughout this course our main focus has been on creating our online courses.  We have participated in discussions to beginning thinking about our courses and then to discuss our progress as we moved through the creation process.  As I am coming to the end of my creation process I am beginning to realize that this creation process has taught me more than I could imagine.  This past week I have spend completing course reviews for my classmates and then reading the reviews that they created for me.  Most of the feedback I received was pretty consistent.  A lot of the ideas overlapped and were similar.  All of it helped me to reevaluate the progress that I have made on the course and look at what else I still need to change.  Overall, I saw a common theme that my course just needed little changes to make it better.  I am working on making the changes that need to be made and moving onto finalizing my course.  In the next few days I am planning on finishing up so I can work on proof reading it again.

What I have learned…..

During this course I have learned a lot of valuable information that I will be able to take with me in life.  To start I have learned that I am capable of anything I put my mind to.  This course pushed me to see my full potential and I am grateful for that.  To be honest I was not challenged throughout my college career.  All of the work that I completed felt like busy work rather than  intellectually challenging work.  This course was truly the first course to challenge me and show me that college is all about learning and enhancing your learning experience.  It was amazing how we each created different courses and still could learn from one another.  I honestly doubted this at first.  We came together from all different fields of teaching and together came out with new and innovating ideas of what it means to be an online teacher.  One of the most important things that I learned was about building a classroom community and the similarities it has between the online classroom and a f2f classroom.  Almost all of our readings and videos this semester talked about what it means to build a classroom community and how we do that.  I have a new understanding of the importance that a classroom community has on the discussions and other interactions that take place in it.    I have also learned that in a online environment interactions between students and students as well as students and am instructor are both very important.  There needs to be a good balance between these 2 different types of interaction in order for a course to be well rounded.  This also helps to establish the instructors teaching presence in the course.

What would have helped my learning……

When I first began this course I was extremely overwhelmed.  I felt like a lot was being thrown at me in a small amount of time.  One of the biggest stresses was the discussion posts.  This became less of a stress when Alex cut the assignment in half.  It allowed me to put more focus on less discussion posts which I felt made them better.  I enjoyed having the time to look for resources and other articles that were interesting and related to the discussion topic for that module.  Another factor that may have helped my learning was to not have as much material thrown at us from the start.  The “D0 this stuff first” page had so much going on I wasn’t sure where to start and where the end.  It was a little overwhelming to see all of the assignments and things to do from day 1.  I felt like I couldn’t manage my time to get all of the work completed.  Most of the “what’s due when” pages for this course had a lot of wording on them which confused me.  Making them shorter or more user friendly might help students in the future to grasp what they need to be doing.  One way might be to hyperlink all of the readings and videos to a word instead of putting the whole url on there.  It would make the document a little more user friendly and it would look more like a checklist.  Overall, I felt that Alex used a wide variety of resources in this course that helped my learning.  I enjoyed learning about new tools and websites that I had never been introduced to before.  This course opened my eyes to the potential that internet resources have to improving online instruction.

 

Kelly (4)

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At this point

August5

It’s hard to believe that we have almost completed this course.  It feels like yesterday that we were just starting and I was panicing at the work load that we would have.  At this point the only parts of my online course that I have to complete are a few exemplars of projects.  Other than that I am done and it feels great.  I never thought I would get to this point in the course but now the countless hours that I spent working feel great.  I am ready for some feedback on my course from my classmates and instructor so that I know what I could improve on.  In my eyes it looks great but I can’t say that everyone else will feel the same way.

What I have learned about myself….

During this course I feel like I almost found myself as an instructor.  I know that sounds a little strange but I feel like I now know who I am and what I am capable of.  This course gave me, in some way, the confidence that I needed to be a better instructor to my students in a f2f setting.  In a lot of ways a f2f setting and an online classroom are very similar.  In the article titled Online Learning vs. Classroom Learning the author, Neil Kokemuller offers us a comparison between the 2 learning environments.  In both settings there are many advantages and disadvantages but they are similar in terms of what happens in the settings.  In both settings there is the opportunity for discussion, tests and coursework that helps you to learn about the material for the course.  Also, while the article doesn’t mention this, there is a sense of community built in both classrooms.  While how we create the community in an online setting is different than a classroom setting the same principles are carried over.  I have many new ideas for the school year on how I can build a classroom community now all I need is a classroom to build it in!

Moving theory to practice….

From what we have learned I feel confident in moving theory to practice.  The ideas that have been presented to us through the course readings and videos have helped me to think more about the course I am creating and what I can add to my course to make it better.  I continually think about the students that can potentially take this course in the future and what I can do to help them enjoy the course.  Through out the readings and videos I took a lot of notes as ideas flowed through my head on how to improve upon the parts of the course that I already created.

Advice from the rock stars….

Hearing advice from a different group of people was a different experience that was very rewarding.  I enjoyed hearing how they engaged students in their own courses and how they compared engaging students to outside experiences.  In my last blog I addressed how Bryan Alexander compared creating a course to storytelling.  I thought this was a very interesting comparison.  He also posted a second video on why video discussion is not use more often by educators. He simply puts it as the reason it is not used more is that it is not known.  In the world of online teaching many educators are not well informed on the benefits of video discussion as well as the advantages that it has.  While I am not incoporating video discussion into my course I am incoporating video presentations.  In using video presentations I feel that I am allowing my students the same experience as if they were presenting to a class full of students only in this case their students can watch the presentation at their own convience and more than once if they would like.  It is interesting that more online educators don’t use video discussion more often.  This is honestly the first online class where I have ever participated in an online introduction post and listened to an online lecture.  I thought it was a rewarding and beneficial experience.

Kelly (4)

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Where I am at

July29

Surprisingly at this point in my development I feel accomplished and that I am ready to make my finishing touches.  I have spent the last week looking over my course and making sure that all of my activities match my schedule and so on.  I am moving towards adding in some fun features to my course to make it more interactive and engaging for my students.  As I move into this week I am planning on beginning my checklist and slowly making my way through it, making sure to check every aspect of my course throughly.  I have honestly surprised myself up to this point in the fact that I have enjoyed this process of creating the online course and developing its learning activities.  I never thought of becoming an online professor but down the road I might consider adding that on to my work load.  As we begin to move into the final weeks of this course I am anxious to see how my course will turn out and what my classmates will think of it.  I am also curious to see how my classmates courses will come out and how they are similar and different to my course.  At this point I am proud of the work I have done and for the next few weeks will be continually working to improve my course.

From Theory to Practice……

When this course first began I was unsure if we would be able to move from theory to practice.  The information that we were learning was informative but it didn’t exactly make a whole lot of sense to me until I started to apply it.  Just reading the information is nice but applying it is what makes it come alive.  For me I learned more from the video presentations than the readings.  I felt like it was easier for me to understand and for some reason it made more sense to me.  During the social presence video series I learned a lot about how I should present myself to my students.  From how I should word my writing to the ways that I should be available in my course.  It is important to make sure that you present yourself in a way that makes the students feel welcomed and comfortable as well as excited for your course.  I kept the content of these videos in mind as I began to design my learning activities.  I made sure that I addressed my learners in a way that showed my best practices as a teacher.  I felt that the breeze presentations throughout the course helped me to conceptualize the written information that was given to us.  Hearing the information after reading it helps it to almost “sink in” and helps me to remember it so that I can apply it later on.

Online Video Discussion….

Wow! What a cool idea to invite other extrememly knowledgable people to join in on the conversation for our class and allow us to hear their points of view.  I enjoy hearing advice from other instructors on how they do it in their own classes.  It allows you to get a different perspective as well as different ideas.  The comparison that Bryan Alexander gave  of teaching to storytelling really stuck with me.  Ever since I watched the video last week I have continued to think about how we could teach in a way that we are almost telling a story.  I understood it is a way that we present ourselves and present our course.  This goes hand in hand with “chunking” as we designed our course modules.  We had to decide what order made the most sense for us to present the course in.  It would not make sense to teach in depth information before you even introduced the topic.  As I work on finalizing my course one of the main things I will be thinking about is, do my modules and learning activities tell a story? Or do my modules and learning activities need to be rearranged so that their story makes more sense?  I want my course to almost tell the story of literacy and how powerful it can be once it all comes together.

 

Kelly (4)

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Completing the major components of my course

July23

Phew! I am amazed at how much work I have completed this module on my course.  I didn’t realize how much time I would end up putting into constructing my learning activities.  But, now that it is done I feel relieve and am already deciding how I can go in and spice it up to make it more engaging.

How am I applying what I have learned to my own course…..

As I just finished up on my course’s learning activities I have realized how much I learned from the readings and videos in this course.  My biggest help, was the course manual.  The layout of the course manual was easy for me to use and understand as well as apply the concepts to my course.  One of the main components that I based my course off of was the seven principles of good practice in Online Teaching and Learning.

  1. The instructor encourages student-faculty contact and interaction.
  2. The instructor encourages student cooperation and reciprocity.
  3. The instructor encourages active learning.
  4. The instructor gives prompt feedback.
  5. The instructor emphasizes time on task.
  6. The instructor communicates high expectations.
  7. The instructor respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

In my own course I made sure to incorporate each of these aspects in any way that I could.  The incorporation of these seven principles helps to develop a strong course that if full of teaching and learning.

What have you observed about yourself during this process…..

During this process I have learned a lot about myself that I didn’t know before.  As a developer I did not know how much creativity I would have as well as drive to complete my course.  When I started to develop my course learning activities I felt that I could not stop working.  When ever I would take a break from my work ideas would run through my head on how to make my course better.  I came to realize that I was determined to make the best course that I could no matter how long it took.  At this point I have my skeleton of my course laid out but I still have a lot of developing to work on.  I want to make my course fun and interactive for my students so I need to add more features to it in order to do that.

What has challenged you the most in this course…..

In this course I think the most challenging part has been deciding on what to use in my course.  There is only so much time in the course and I wanted to make sure I was able to allow my students to complete different types of assignments and interactions.  As I continue to develop and change my course I want to be sure that I am able to challenge and engage my students in every way that I possibly can.

 

Kelly (4)

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Who are you?

July17

What have I learned about myself……

Creating my own course has been a process that has been a new and exciting experience for me.  I have not been challenged in this way before.  As I am beginning t0 work on the creation process of my course I am learning more about myself than I knew before.  First off I never really knew how much I would enjoy creating a course.  When we first got the instructions that we were going to be creating a course I was afraid of the struggles I might be faced with but to be honest I was more than ready to create the course.  I have a lot of information on the topic of literacy that I am able to share in my course.  Also, I have learned a lot about myself as a student during this course so far.  As a student I have never been pushed and challenged to this extent.  I like the challenge that this course provides me with.  It allows me to feel like I am using my knowledge to teach others.  It is also helping me in my f2f classroom by teaching me the importance of a classroom community and helping me to realize that what you teach in a f2f setting can be taught online and vice versa.  

Applying my knowledge to my own course…….

The course manual has helped me to shape my own course.  This modules information has been especially helpful as I start to work on creating the components of my course.  One of the most important components that I have learned more about is the class community.  According to the manual “online collaborations between the instructor and student and between the students themselves positively and significantly influence student satisfaction and perceived learning.”  When I read this I realized that I need to add in the chance for communication as much as possible.  As I begin to build my course learning activities I am planning on adding in some more chances for communication.  When my students are working on group projects I will introduce them to skype so that they can work in a f2f setting.  When my students are presenting an assignment I will have them create a video such as voice thread so that they can hear and or see them as they discuss their project.  All of these components will aide in creating a classroom community with an ample amount of communication.  Through out the course I will also provide ample amounts of feedback to my students as well as participate in the discussion posts to aid in their learning.

Who are you and why are you that way as an educator and a learner…..

One thing that this course is helping me to realize is that being an educator and being a learner go hand in hand.  As a learner I begin to understand more about what my students go through when they are in class.  It helps me to gain empathy for them and to help them to be successful.  As a learner I like to be set up with all of the right supports to make sure I will be successful.  As an educator I make sure I do the same for my students.  I am an organized person who enjoys having a schedule of when my assignments are due.  Since I am an elementary teacher I put the schedule for the day up on the board for my students.  This helps them to know what is going on during the day.  Being a student helps me realize what I need to do for my students in order to help them to be successful.

Kelly (4)

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Why am I doing things the way that I am?

July9

 

Why am I choosing to do things in a certain way?

This seems to be the question of the module since we have made it to the chunk of the our courses.   In our courses we have officially began to develop the learning activities.  I feel like the component that helped me the most during this module was observing the exemplar courses.  While the readings and videos also helped me I was able to see what the instructors were talking about as they did discussed their learning activities.  I was able to see their reasoning for chunking their course in a certain way which helped me to better understand why I chunked my course the way that I did.  I am curious to see how everyone else decided to chunk their courses and if they are drastically different that mine in terms of number of modules and amount of information being presented to the students.

 

I’m actually learning?

I hate to admit that in the beginning of this course I was very doubtful that I would learn anything new.  Even though I haven’t created my own online course in the past I have created an online learning system as well as used countless number of technologies.  So when we got our assignment to chose a topic that we were familiar with I was doubtful.  But I will say that through out this module I have learned a ton.  The playlist of youtube videos taught me a lot of valuable information on the importance of social presence in an online community.  To be honest before those videos I doubted that a strong social presence was possible in a online course.  But once again I can admit that I am wrong.  ( and I hate to be wrong)

 

Struggles

At this point in the course I have not come across too many things that have posed a problem to me.  I am actually understanding what needs to be done and am able to do it.  The most challenging thing for me was getting acclimated with Moodle.  Once I better understood how that worked I was able to get a better feel for how to navigate and set up components of my course.

 

At this point I think the only thing to say is on to the next module!

 

Kelly (4)

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Chunking, the main question of the module

July2

It is hard to believe that is already time to write my first blog for module 3.  It seems like yesterday that we just started this course let alone this module.  This past week has helped me to think much deeper into the different aspects of my course and how I was going to group my topics.  From the beginning of our courses I knew how I wanted to start and end my course but the middle was a little fuzzy.  This week it became a lot clearer.  I decided to group my modules in the way the follows.

Module 1: Introduction/Icebreakers
Module 2: Literacy? What is that?
Module 3: What are different types of literacy?
Module 4: Are we seeing that in classrooms?
Module 5: How can we add in technology?
Module 6: Final Project
Module 7: Lets’s wrap this all up!

I ordered my modules in the way that made the most sense to learn the course information in.  My first module is an introduction to the course and getting to know you icebreaker activities.  My second module is an introduction to the main topic of the course.  This is intended to be a broad scope of the topic.  The third module is about 2 different literacy programs being used in classrooms.  The four module is a follow up of the previous module.  In this module students will be observing classrooms and comparing the models they read about to what they are seeing.  The fifth module takes everything the students have learned so far and has them reevaluate how they can add in technology.  The sixth module allows students to take everything they learned and create their own ideal literacy learning environment.  The final module will be a culminating course activity to wrap up everything that the students learned through out the course. 

After Alex’s comments I decided that I would call my introduction module Lets meet each other!  This way I am introducing my course in a more welcoming fashion.  When deciding how to group my modules I found the exemplar courses most helpful.  It made more sense to me as I listened to the logic behind how they arranged and grouped their modules together.

I feel that as we are progressing through this course the readings and videos are only helping me to strengthen my decisions that I am making in my own course.  For example the social presence playlist helped me to learn a lot about how to address my students in the course.  I feel comfortable knowing that these great references are available for me to look back on as I continue designing my course.  I am looking forward to continuing to learn and grow throughout the second half of the course.

 

Kelly (4)

 

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Creating a course is a lot of work

June23

I can official say after working on the welcome components of this module that creating your own course is a ton of work!  I found myself coming home all week and spending hours on the computer each night trying to get together all of the information for my course.  My most difficult part so far has been deciding what to do in each module and finding readings and videos that correspond to that module.  I think this part took me the longest to map out and then after that it was clear sailing.  The biggest thing that helped me to be successful was being able to observe the online courses.  It was a huge help to see how other instructors constructed their course and even how they worded their documents.  If I have learned anything during this module it has been that wording is a huge component of your course.  If you do not have everything worded in a way that makes sense and is directed at the student they will get confused and not understand what to do.

In the discussion forum for this module I began a discussion with Celeste and Ryan about the differences between online teaching and face to face teaching.  I was worried that in my course I would not provide enough experiences to make up for my presence in the course.  One of the most important things that I took with me from this discussion came from The Journal for Transforming Education through Technology.  It discussed that there are 3 types of interactions that take place in successful distant learning; learner-content interaction, learner-instructor interaction and learner-learner interaction.  If all of these components can be found in your course then you are golden.  Your students will be able to feel your presence in the course.

My own course…

I have made a lot of decisions so far from my course on what I want to do.  I know for sure that I want to create a strong sense of community in my course.  I will do that through ice breaker activities in the beginning of the course.  I also want to give my students an ample about of discussion opportunities so that they can learn and grow from their readings and course materials.  I also know that I will have outside learning experiences, such as classroom observations.  This will be a strong component of my course because every student will get a different experience and be able to bring those into our discussion.

What I am worried about….

I am getting worried about what is coming next in this course.  I am still unsure about all of the learning activities that I would like to do and I am afraid that they will not be adequate enough for my course.  When I viewed the courses for observation I felt that they were much more involved then my course that I laid out.  I am hopeful that when I start to create my learning activities I will feel more comfortable and that I will be able to write them without trouble.

 

As this module comes to a close it is hard to believe that we have already finished 4 weeks of this course.  I am excited to keep moving on my course but nervous as well.  This course is helping me to understanding the passion that online instructors put into their courses and the importance they place on all of the components.  While this experience is proving to be a lot of work, I know that in the end it will be rewarding.

 

Kelly (4)

by posted under Module 2 | 2 Comments »    

So much to learn so little time…

June18

As the course continues to progress I feel like a little bit of stress has been lifted off of my shoulders.  I enjoyed the breeze presentation since I have never had an experience with that software before.  It was informative but I felt like it reiterated what was said in the article A Series of Unfortunate Online Events and How to Avoid Them.  Personally I enjoyed this reading because it took a lot of “weight” off of my shoulders.  When I read this I felt myself saying yeah I was worried about that happening.  One of the most important things that I took from the reading was that it is important to assume nothing!  As a teacher it is hard to not assume anything about your students especially when there is a good chance that you will never meet them.  We go through life making assumptions about everything we see it is hard to change that perspective when you are teaching.

Design, Design, Design…

In the same article you discuss how a good course does not happen on accident.  Now this is obviously something that I knew already but it is not as easy to do as I thought it would be.  Through  out the course manual I have learned what exactly needs to go into the course to make it work.  I knew that designing this course would be a lot of work but I feel that I am better prepared to do it because of the tools that have been provided for us.  I also found it important to lay out your expectations and make sure they are clear.  Without clear expectations how can you expect your students to know what you want from them.

What I am enjoying about this course…

So far I am enjoying the discussions in this post.  I feel that it is extremely helpful to interact with your peers while you are learning since they have so much to teach you as well.  Also, it is interesting to see what each person pulls from each assignment since it is usually very different.  Our minds seem to hang on different things when we are reading.  I am excited to continue learning and working through the modules with everyone and to see the final courses that are created.

What I would change….

The only thing that I struggle with during this course is the schedule.  For me when we start a module I think that I have so much time to work on the assignments because I have 2 weeks but that 2 weeks flies by.  I struggle with scheduling my assignments since I have so much time.  This is not really something you can change it is more something that I need to figure out as I continue working through the course.

The next step…

The next step I am going to take in this course is to observe an exemplar course.  I want to do this before I start working on my course components so that I can use this course to my advantage.  Between the articles that we read in this module, the manual, the breeze presentation and now the course observation I think I will be more than ready to start to create my course and get this show on the road!

Kelly (4)

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